Newest Review: ... through the park to the miners cottages. This is charged at £1 for a return fare! Underground mine - Experienced staff can take you u... more
Scotland's Hidden Treasure
Summerlee Heritage Park (Coatbridge)
Summerlee Heritage Park (Coatbridge)
Date: 29/10/00, updated on 18/11/02 (2094 review reads)
Advantages: Free entry and a great day out
Disadvantages: None (barring the weather)
To understand the local importance of the museum I will say a few words on the history of the area, quickly though :) The museum is located in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire - about 11 miles from Glasgow City Centre and about 40 miles from Edinburgh. Following the Industrial Revolution Coatbridge became known as the 'Iron Burgh' due to its many iron works. The iron producing history of the area makes it an ideal host for a project such as Summerlee Museum.
The museum itself is situated on the site of the former Summerlee Iron Works, and has become the main showplace in Scotland for exhibits of the heavy engineering, iron and steel industries. Yes, I know that in itself may not sound too appealing to many people, but there really is so much more to Summerlee.
Facilities and exhibits include:
* - A large exhibition hall which is full of reconstructions of things like a spade forge, Victorian trade exhibition, brass finishers shop, models of steelworks, vintage cars and even a 'green goddess' fire engine.
* - The Ironworks Gallery, which houses all manner of temporary exhibitions as well as activity workshops for schoolchildren and community groups.
* - An early 20th century driftmine including a mine-shaft where the atmosphere of working in a pit can be sampled - not recommended for claustrophobics.
A working tramway (which I believe is the only one in Scotland). For a small fee tram driving lessons are available!
* - Two rows of reconstructed Miners cottages, amounting to five dwellings in all. The cottages date from 1840 to 1960 with fully furnished interiors giving a real feel of what life would have been like for the miners of each era.
* - Social history displays which show the links between the local industries and the communities that grew up around them.
* - Restored steam engines and cranes/lifting gear, and a reconstruction of the first Scottish iron hulled barge (the Vulcan).
* - Large outdoor park area centered around a re-opened section of the Monkland Canal (which was used mainly to ship iron products to Glasgow). This area includes picnic tables and walkways.
* - A programme of special events which are held both indoors and outdoors.
* - A shop and tearoom (which is very competitively priced).
Entry to the museum is free - which is always the best price!, and free car parking is also available. If you would rather come by train there are two stations in close proximity to the museum, Coatbridge Central (on the Glasgow Central - Motherwell - Cumbernauld line) and Coatbridge Sunnyside (Airdrie to Helensburgh/Balloch, via Glasgow Queen Street, line). The museum is also only a couple of minutes walk from Coatbridge town centre so is easily accessible by bus.
Opening hours are 10am till 5pm daily except 25th/26th December and 1st/2nd January. The museum can be contacted by 'phone on (01236) 431261, by fax on (01236) 440429 or by post at Summerlee Heritage Trust, Heritage Way, Coatbridge ML5 1QD.
If you live in central Scotland and have not visited Summerlee I would strongly advise you to do so. For those of you who are further afield, please do bear it in mind if you are ever visiting central Scotland, or perhaps if you come from a community that has roots in the iron industry it may even be wor
th making a trip just to visit Summerlee. It really is a great and inexpensive day out which is interesting, informative and fun.
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